Gold weights depicting horsemen, along with representations of elephants, are among the rarest types of gold weights to be found. Like other horseman gold weights, the rider depicted on the horse is likely Hausa from the north - as illustrated in the saddles and headgear. The alloy composition of this bronze appears to consist of a high percentage of copper. As the book, 'African Miniatures: The Gold Weights of the Ashanti' details, due to the teste fly and impenetrability of the bush at the time , hoofed animals were seldom used in battle by the Ashanti, but in the town they served as status symbols for the kings, who were 'proud of having mounted warriors or messengers on their staffs.'
This particular gold weight, measuring nine centimetres in length, pushes the boundaries of how large a gold weight can be. However, similar examples of this size - and even larger - have been published. One such example, from the University Museum in Philadelphia, has been published in 'African Miniatures: The Gold Weights of the Ashanti'. This piece measures 10.5 centimetres in length (see photographs).
Estimated Period: 18th Century
Ex Private Collection, Switzerland
Margaret Webster Plass, African Miniatures: The Gold Weights of the Ashanti (1967)
(Click on images to enlarge)